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Press Box for 11/4

By Randy Rutherford - Staff Writer | Nov 4, 2020

The dictionary defines motivation as the reason one has for acting or behaving in a certain way. Motivation is also the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.

Is motivation taught? Can it be something you learn? Does it come from your father, mother, grandparent, friend or sibling? Can motivation be developed; can it grow? Does motivation get stronger or weaker? Does it ever disappear? The answer to all these questions is, YES!

Motivation comes in many forms. In athletics it can come from coaches and teammates. In school it can come from teachers and administrators. In business it can come from your boss or colleagues.

Coaches know when young athletes decide to play a sport they must commit to practicing long hours, working hard to improve skills and be willing to give 100% to achieve success. It is easy to get motivated when you are winning, but it is much more difficult to become motivated when you are losing. Great coaches find ways to keep their athletes motivated even when they are suffering defeat. When a losing team improves after halftime, often commentators remark that the coach must have said something to fire up the troops. How many times have you seen a team return to the field or court after a dismal first half and play like a different team? Most likely a good coach was able to provide the needed spark.

It has been an extremely tough year for high school athletics during the pandemic. In addition to normal job responsibilities, coaches have had to deal with social distancing, last minute schedule changes and creating a safe environment. In some cases these additional challenges have taken away their ability to properly prepare for the next opponent, but coaches still have to find ways to motivate their athletes. It is an old saying that practice makes perfect, and it still holds true today. Coaches often say “We had a great week in practice” and usually that follows with a win. You hear coaches say “We weren’t focused today” and that usually results in a loss.

We recently lost a great coach and motivator from Sistersville High School, Tom Cuppett, who was the head football and basketball coach for the Tigers from 1966 thru 1968. Coach Cuppett used great pregame speeches to motivate his teams. He used strong discipline to motivate his athletes to make good decisions when away from the court or football field. Believe me. If you stepped out of line on or off the field, Coach Cuppett quickly brought you back! Coach found ways to get the most out of his players. He worked hard and it rubbed off on his kids. His methods produced winners, many all state players and one All American, Mike Carson, in basketball. To this day people still talk about the Sistersville Tiger Basketball Team entering a gym prior to a game. Team members were dressed in sharp black blazers with Tiger heads on their breast pocket, matching ties, and even Tiger hats! Immediately you noticed the motivation in their eyes. Coach Cuppett’s teams came to play. We didn’t win them all, but you knew after you faced a Tom Cuppett coached team, you had been in a fight. Coach Cuppett RIP. You will forever be remembered and greatly missed.

Other great motivators that I worked with during my coaching career were Dave Cisar, Bob Ripley, and Bill Stewart. Each had a different approach to how they motivated kids. I started my coaching career at Magnolia High school working with Coach Cisar and Coach Ripley. Coach Cisar’s motivation was loud and fiery. His passion for football and baseball did not go unnoticed to anyone around his programs. I was the assistant baseball coach and there were many Saturday early mornings that he would pick me up to get the field ready for a triple headed later that day. The kids knew what to expect and they always came ready to play.

Coach Ripley motivated by teaching. He taught “Defense” not just assignments. His players understood the system and could quickly adjust to different offenses that we faced. He is well known in the Ohio Valley for his defensive coaching, earning him many awards and a state championship.

There isn’t a football fan in the state of WV that has not seen or heard Coach Stew’s famous “Leave No Doubt” pre-game speech before the Fiesta Bowl. The Mountaineers dominated Oklahoma that night and to quote Pat White “we won this game for Coach Stew”.

Regardless of where your motivation comes from, once you complete your high school career and move on to the next step in your life, self motivation is a big part of whether or not you succeed. As stated earlier motivation is the reason one has for acting or behaving in a certain way. We all have someone or several people in our history that provided the motivation needed along the way to find success. Do your best to pay it forward. Be the person to provide motivation to someone just starting out or starting again.